Movement for Peace with Justice at a Crossroads

Translated from the Spanish by Americas MexicoBlog

Mexico City, November 22, 2011 (José Gil Olmos/ Proceso) .-  The growth was rapid, perhaps too rapid. Many of the actions that took place in seven months were rather intuitive. Without resources or structure, more because of the need to protest, the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity developed without order.

It is now in a phase of reorganization, with the idea of fortifying the work and the defense of the victims and their families and to expanding the leadership so that the weight of decisions rests not only on the poet Javier Sicilia, but with a collective, broad leadership.

"We are in a crisis of growth" said Sicilia, who agrees that he ought to stop being the leading image in order for the organization to become more militant.

"I will continue as a moral figure, the weight is too great for me to continue as the main figure. To continue thus is harmful to the cause because the figures that concentrate things too much things end up disappointing, becoming ineffective, it loses the inspiring substance that established it. ... When leaders expire, the movement is lost, " the poet said to this weekly.

But he clarifies that this does not mean that he will  abandon the movement that was born in Mexico City on April 6, when he led the first national demonstration against the violence and thousands of deaths generated by the drug war, launching a cry of protest that was reproduced throughout the country: "We’ve had it up to here!".

- What are  you going to do?

'I want to be as a moral figure and companion. I've led in the founding moments, but I think it's time to strengthen the Movement’s structure and allow me to remain only a moral figure, not like now when media-wise it falls on  me. I am not the Movement, I'm simply an inspirerer. There are people who are not in the limelight but without whose participation it would not go forward. I think it's time that they gain a stronger presence.

Poet, author of several novels, writer, essayist, editor of the magazine Conspiratio and professor, Sicily clarifies that he is not an activist, but following the murder of his son on March 28 he began to carry out social actions to stem the tide of violence that has cost over 50,000 lives across the country.

"I am not an activist, I am an author who continues to write ... even though I stopped writing poetry. I want to continue working as an editor.  I live an austere life contrary to the logic of the market, my contribution is through writing. I want to combine these actions, in fact I'm already doing it, but people do not see it. I want to continue thus, but from another place so that the Movement can fully express itself.

- Do you think the Movement is ready for another kind of leadership?

'Yes. There are people of great talent, not media pesonalities, such as Pietro Ameglio, Emilio Álvarez Icaza, Miguel Concha, Clara Jusidman, Guape Ignacio Suarez, Miguel Alvarez and the poets, Eduardo Vazquez and Tomas Calvillo. There is also a group of youth in the Commission on Victims. That is to say that the core operates with a collective sense. I think we can take this step because they are not  ad hoc people.
Interviewed a month after the second dialogue with Felipe Calderón, during which time he has kept a low profile in the media, Sicilia insists that he will not leave the movement; he will not leave its ranks but will take his role of victim and inspirational figure.

Pietro Ameglio, one of those in charge of creating a national network of organizations of relatives of victims, said that the poet's leadership is not in doubt but that it is necessary to build a broad structure for making decisions.

"It is very clear that the main leadership is that of Javier Sicilia, there is a general acceptance of it. But there is also an increasing need to build the national network, where the victims also participate in and benefit from the decisions.

"Follower of the Gandhian current of peaceful civil resistance, Ameglio considers that other leaders will arrive via a natural process and notes that Sicilia himself needs to regain his spaces as a writer, earning a living, caring  for his family and mourning the murder of his son, Juan Francisco.

"In that sense we have to build other spaces to continue helping to create new leadership, but without removing his;  on the contrary, it will be further reinforced, "says this professor of Uruguayan origin.

- Will Sicilia be a moral figure?-

He will be a moral reserve, symbolic: he won’t have to be in on all the decisions or the head of all the demonstrations, but participating in the thinking process, in the spaces where he wants to be, respecting his fundamental  role.


The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity has no office ... nor money. There are are 4 thousand dollars in its coffers that hardly pay the debts that resulted from the caravan to the south. When in Mexico City, Sicily works in an office that is loaned to him by the National Center for Social Communication. All its workers are volunteers and they devote extra hours working to provide attention to the families who come to plead for assistance in order that  justice is obtained for their dead or that their loved ones are located.

The willpower that has prevailed in the group comes from Sicilia, a group of poets, representatives of the Church identified with Liberation Theology, citizen groups and human rights activists,  defenders of migrants and the missing and affected relatives; they decided to unite to express their demand for peace with justice and dignity. With marches and caravans they have traveled through 26 states.

Now, after seven months of incessant activity, of a process of intense internal discussion, of confrontations with various groups, of criticism of Sicilia’s actions and two meetings with Calderon, members of the movement decided to distance themselves from the media and pause to rethink goals, actions, structure, leadership and funding sources.

"The movement has had a growth crisis.  It has grown even though it no longer has the media coverage that there was at the beginning. What we need is to give more substance to its structure, to the committees.

"We have over 700 cases of victims and should, along with other organizations, focus on the work of the new Office of Victim Services because it is so badly organized. We have to pressure it so that it may do its job well, so that the government gives it adequate resources and the breadth that corresponds to the national emergency, " Sicilia said.

The movement succeeded in making the victims visible . What's next?

'To pursue justice, to ensure that all the cases are attended to, to build the memorial, to make the National Security Act have a character appropriate to citizens and to work on the Victims' Law. As the name of the movement implies, to achieve peace with justice and dignity.

"But the center of all this are the people who were abused. Beginning from there we proceed. We go forward because we will continue for a long time in a state of national emergency.

"-Are you not worn out by this rapid growth?-

No. Rather it is a crisis of growth, because insofar as the movement has grown, gaps have opened. The need is to rethink it as a more solid, clear structure, because until now there have been marches and caravans, with deep insights.  But so that a path is opened, it is necessary to restructure it so that it can take on with responsibility what it has unleashed.

"It is a movement born overnight, that was guided by its intuitions as a force and steadiness through all, but after seven months it already brings together more people and it is necessary to recover, so that it can acquire a structure that can respond."

Ameglio explains that the movement is working internally on strengthening the committees in order that they operate effectively and participate in decision-making. "That seems very important to me because it means that decisions are taken in a more encompassing and pluralistic manner, because there will be at least a couple of representatives from each committee  in the coordinating committee where actions and decisions are discussed.

"This way everything is transparent and is enriched by the reflections of more people and it is made more pluralistic. It is one of the major demands: broaden the decision-making, make decision making more pluralistic and strategic and see that the information flows and is discussed, that it is not concentrated among a few people.

""In short, to create a network of regional links, at the state-level, and broader organizations so that strategies are decided among more people. Also to benefit from those organizations that have more experience and are facing more difficult and violent situations than others are facing. Regional networks will allow taking on cases as they arrive, to have some kind of liaison, monitoring and support for families.

"Derived from this structure of organizations, a national network would be formed, because to the extent that the regional nuclei activate themselves, they have more strength and relationship between them. Also it is going to enhance the closeness of different groups around the country and the coordination among them. In addition to the regional links, he indicated that in early 2012 a national meeting is planned of organizations that make up the movement.

Peaceful civil resistance

Another important aspect that is being worked on, says Ameglio, who is a teacher in the Cloister of Sor Juana, has to do with peaceful civil resistance.

He explains: "I believe that we have exhausted the stage of demonstrations and symbolic acts. But regarding the issue of non-violence, it is important to propose forms of non-cooperation in the sense of pressure on the authorities in order that our silence or our ways of working together are taken into account. So I think we have to stop cooperating and exercise a kind of pressure in the social, political realm.

"The forms of non-cooperation are very broad and, as Gandhi said--and also the indigenous communities--there comes a time when if the state is given monetary and political resources, without pressure, this becomes a kind of complicity. So I think in Mexico, before turning to civil disobedience, we should explore more ways, entirely civil and peaceful, of non-cooperation to pressure governments to fulfill the work of justice, and change the militarization model.

- How would this other stage be thought of?

'Civil and peaceful resistance, nonviolent, which enters the terrain of non-cooperation, which in Brazil is called "permanent strength." That is, a demand is made ​​and pressed until it is accomplished. It isn’t enough to mobilize and then go home, but to install ones self  in a space and wait until either the agreement or what is asked for is completed, because if things are left in the air, as we're seeing, there is no real will in the sense of justice and there is impunity. So you have to increase the pressure more permanently and continuously.

- Does all this have to do with the victims?

- Sure! This should be led by them, especially the families of the disappeared, which is the most dramatic and strongest theme, where there is more pressure and desperation ... also because each day that passes puts the disappeared more at risk, if he is still alive.

Sicilia states that a dialogue with the new Secretary of the Interior is lacking, in which he hopes there is more sensitivity to understand the dimension of the tragedy, and restore dialogue with the National Conference of Governors and the judiciary.

With a view to the elections 2012 the writer explains that regardless of political preferences or phobias within the movement, the position is not to carry out campaigns against the vote or to promote blank or null votes, but to campaign against the omissions, corruption and disloyalty of all political parties and their candidates.

"To get into election campaigns would be a mistake because we would be contradicting ourselves," the poet warns.

Ameglio and Sicilia indicate that the pacifist organization is in a stage of internal strengthening and giving priority attention to the victims because, they warn, the tragedy that the country is living unfortunately continues, since  a change of attitude in the ruling class has not been seen.